Bente Birkeland

Bente Birkeland has been reporting on state legislative issues for KUNC and Rocky Mountain Community Radio since 2006. Originally, from Minnesota, Bente likes to hike and ski in her spare time. She keeps track of state politics throughout the year but is especially busy during the annual legislative session from January through early May.

 

Nine legislators, staffers and lobbyists are alleging that Rep. Steve Lebsock, a Democrat running for state treasurer, harassed, intimidated or made unwanted sexual advances against them. And in response to our reporting, a top Democratic leader is calling on Lebsock to “do the right thing and resign.”

Four years ago state lawmakers – and the governor – created a law to help undocumented children follow their American dreams. They allowed them to pay the significantly cheaper in-state tuition to go to state colleges instead of higher out-of-state prices. The requirements: They must graduate from a Colorado high school that they’ve attended for three years and promise to pursue citizenship.

“This is an issue that has been a challenge in our state and our country for many years,” said Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran, one of the main sponsors of Senate Bill 33.

While Colorado’s congressional delegation had mixed reactions to President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, many continue to show bipartisan support for the policy. The executive order, signed by President Obama, gave children brought into the United States illegally a chance to stay in the country legally.

Colorado’s annual legislative session ends Wednesday, May 10. Several hundred bills have already passed this year. But some major items still remain. Bente Birkeland talked to statehouse reporters Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal and Nic Garcia at Chalkbeat Colorado about what’s left to do.

Earlier this month, Fort Collins Coloradoan reporter Nick Coltrain won the First Amendment Award at the Society for Professional Journalists’ Top of the Rockies for a battle with Colorado State University. He wanted to know if there were inequities in pay between men and women -- and discovered there were, but only after a lot of work. The school provided him with a printout of all the information -- 150 pages of an Excel spreadsheet --  rather than the files themselves.

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